“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
We’ve already mentioned that part of the tremendous power of apocalyptic passages like this one is that it allows believers to place their present suffering into a larger framework of God’s struggle against evil and eventual triumph and redemption. And so those who originally heard Mark’s story of Jesus took comfort in looking at some of their hardships not simply as tragic calamities but as signs of Christ’s impending return and triumph.
Having talked about this already, though, I’d like to ask another, though related question: where do you see signs of God’s activity. They don’t have to be cataclysmic. In fact, I sometimes think our sense of God’s activity has been skewed by passage like this and, frankly, by films like The Ten Commandments. Sure, there are stories in the Bible of God’s mighty acts, but much of what God does in the Bible – working through the ordinary faithfulness of all kinds of men and women – would never find its way into a Cecil B. Demille movie. It is humdrum, ordinary, even mundane…
…Except to the people who experienced it. Because those who sense God’s presence amid the ordinary and mundane elements of life are blessed with an awareness that God is regularly and relentlessly at work in countless and myriad ways to bring the creation to fulfillment. God is all around, but are we looking?
So I’ll ask you again: where do you see signs of God’s activity:
in the fidelity of a friend,
in a shoulder to cry on,
in a hug you were privileged to give,
in falling leaves or much needed rain,
in the smile of a child or wizened face of an elder,
in a job lead after a long wait,
in a phone call from a sibling,
in the vulnerability of a partner?
Where? From the fig tree we can learn a lesson – when it is ready to bloom it does, heralding a new season. All you need to do in order to notice that change and see that sign is to look for it. The same is true with God. So I’ll ask again: where do you see God?